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Entries in Committee of Human Rights Reporters (4)


The Latest from Iran (18 March): Uranium Distractions

2225 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. This could be interesting --- Hossein Marashi, cousin of Hashemi Rafsanjani's wife and a Vice Secretary-General of the Kargozaran Party. has been arrested.

2220 GMT: Edward Yeranian of the Voice of America offers an analysis, "Iranian Government Releases Prisoners for Persian New Year", with contributions from EA staff.

NEW Latest Iran Video: Mousavi's and Rahnavard's New Year Messages (18 March)
NEW Iran: Reading Mousavi & Karroubi “The Fight Will Continue” (Shahryar)
NEW Iran & the US: The Missed Nuclear Deal (Slavin)
Iran Labour Front: Minimum Wage, “Unprecedent Poverty and Hunger”, and Strikes
Iran Analysis: What Does the Fire Festival Mean?
Latest Iran Video: Two Views of the Fire Festival (16 March)
UPDATED Iran Document: Mousavi Speech on “Patience and Perseverance” (15 March)
The Latest from Iran (18 March): Uranium Distractions

2215 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Women's rights activist Somaiyeh Farid was arrested on Wednesday. Farid was at Evin Prison enquiring about her husband, Hojat (Siavash) Montazeri, who was arrested on 5 March.

2145 GMT: A Ray of Light. Amidst some poor analyses today of the Iranian political situation and the Green Movement, Melody Moezzi comes to the rescue with this piece in The Huffington Post:
The arrests before Revolution Day last month (11 February) surely dissuaded many opposition protesters not already in jail from pouring into the streets and risking beatings and unlawful detentions. I personally know of several opposition activists who stayed home as a result of the intimidation, and I can't say that I blame them. Still, no matter how few or many pro-democracy demonstrators show up in the streets for Nowruz the Iranian opposition has far from died. Rather, it has merely been pushed underground, but it is germinating like a stubborn hyacinth, taking on a course and a life of its own, teeming with the sweet smell of a freedom to come.

2100 GMT: A slow evening. Only significant news that we've noted is the release of Abolhasan Darolshafaei from detention. He is the last member of the family to be freed, following the releases of daughters Banafsheh and Jamileh and nephew Yashar.

No members of the Darolshafaei family are any longer in custody, just in time for New Year festivities.

1625 GMT: We have posted the New Year's video greetings of Mir Hossein Mousavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, to the Iranian people.

1440 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Journalist Bahman Amoui, who has been detained since 20 June (read the letter to him from his wife, Zhila Baniyaghoub), has reportedly been released.

1415 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch: Journalist Akbar Montajabi has been released on bail. So have journalist Keyvan Samimi and Hojatoleslam Mir Ahmadizadeh.

1410 GMT: The Case for Change. Hassan Rowhani, a member of the Expediency Council and ally of Hashemi Rafsanjani, has used a long interview to discuss nuclear issues and to make the case for electoral reforms.

1355 GMT: Escape. The BBC is now reporting the story, which we carried last week, of student activist Ali Kantouri, who has fled Iran after being given a 15-year prison sentence for abduction and extortion.

1340 GMT: We have posted a special analysis by Mr Verde of the political significance of this week's Chahrshanbeh Suri (Fire Festival).

1220 GMT: On the Economic Front. Following up on our Wednesday special on the minimum wage and "unprecedented poverty and hunger"....

Six independent labor organizations have argued that the poverty line is $900 per month and asked for that to be new minimum wage. (The Government has authorised $303.) Economists at Mehr News Agency” have set the poverty line in the coming year at above $1000.

(Persian readers may also be interested in Faribors Raisdana's detailed analysis of minimum wages and labourer's poverty.)

1000 GMT: We have two specials for you this morning (and there's a third on the way). We've posted an excellent account by Barbara Slavin of the US-Iran deal on uranium enrichment that almost came off but then collapsed last autumn, and we have Josh Shahryar's analysis of the latest moves by Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

0855 GMT: We're Taking Our Subsidy Bill and Going Home. The ongoing fight between the President and Parliament for control of the budget and expenditure is highlighted by a bad-tempered interview of Ahmadinejad supporter Ruhollah Hosseinian in Khabar Online.

Hosseinian declares that, since the Majlis only gave the President $20 billion of the $40 billion he wanted from subsidy reductions, Ahmadinejad should withdraw the proposal: "It's not clear which portion of the government's revenue will be channeled to other sectors by the Parliament, so I believe implementing subsidy reform bill is against our interests."

Asked how the Administration could avoid implementing a plan which has been passed by Parliament, Hosseinian replied:
Although the bill has become a law, a way must be explored to halt its execution, since enforcing this law in its current form will simply add to the problems. As the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei coordinates the interactions between state branches of the country, a method must be found to annul implementing subsidy reform bill.

0830 GMT: The Uranium Issue. An EA reader asks for clarification on the claim that Iran may be facing a crisis over uranium stock for its medical research reactor.

I am strongly influenced by the knowledge that Iran's approach to the International Atomic Energy Agency last June, which set off this round of talks over uranium enrichment, was prompted by the specific issue of isotopes for medical treatment. I have my suspicions, though no firm evidence, that the renewal of a Tehran push for a deal may also be prompted by this immediate need for 20 percent enriched uranium.

We will soon be posting an excellent investigative piece by Barbara Slavin highlighting this issue.

0605 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Amnesty International is featuring the case of student activist Milad Asadi, detained without charge since 1 December.

0555 GMT: We might have been concerned with the Fire Festival and the renewed protest through the statements of prominent opposition figures (Mousavi, Karroubi, Khatami), parties (Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution), and activist groups (Committee of Human Rights Reporters).

Looks like the Ahmadinejad Government wants to talk uranium, however. Iran's atomic energy agency chief, Ali Akhbar Salehi, put out the line that it was time to agree a uranium swap inside Iran. First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi insisted, "During the new year, new nuclear plants will be built and the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue with its path without allowing the arrogant powers to meddle."

But, with the US threatening more sanctions and no sign that the "West" will accept a deal where the swap occurs inside Iran, where is the hope for Tehran? No problem: "Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin has called for stronger ties...and urged closer cooperation between Iran and Russia to confront existing regional and international threats."

Better hope so. I get the sense that not only is Iran concerned about economic restrictions, primarily through the withdrawal of foreign companies and investment, but also that there may be a crisis looming over uranium for the medical research reactor.

The Latest from Iran (17 March): Celebration

2125 GMT: We Persist. The Committee of Human Rights Reporters, many of whose members have been detaineed, has issued a statement:

The Committee of Human Rights Reporters once again by maintaining the path that it has taken and by supporting other human rights organizations, emphasizes that it will continue its decisive activities in reporting human rights conditions on both national and international levels through collaborations with independent and credible international human rights organizations.

NEW Iran Labour Front: Minimum Wage, “Unprecedent Poverty and Hunger”, and Strikes
NEW Iran Analysis: What Does the Fire Festival Mean?
NEW Latest Iran Video: Two Views of the Fire Festival (16 March)
Iran Document: Mousavi Speech on “Patience and Resistance” (15 March)
Latest Iran Video: The Attack on Karroubi’s House (14 March)
Iran Breaking: Ban on Reformist Political Party
The Latest from Iran (16 March): Fire and Politics

2115 GMT: Karroubi's Big Line. Here's the stinger statement from Mehdi Karroubi as he addressed the (banned) Islamic Iran Participation Front: "Why is it that the justifications of the Shah for his actions were wrong but the very logic and content of his words coming from you is to be considered right?"

1945  GMT: Political Prisoner News. Documentary maker Mohammad Rasoulof, who was arrested in the raid on director Jafar Panahi's house, has been released. Panahi is the only person from the incident who remains in detention.

1915 GMT: Picture of the Day. Mohsen Mirdamadi, the head of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, on his release from detention:

1910 GMT: Economy Watch. Iran has cut the cheap petrol ration by 25% to 60 litres per vehicle per month from 21 March. Currently, each vehicle is allowed a quota of 80 litres of fuel at 10 cents a litre, with any amount needed on top of that priced at 40 cents.

Now is the move part of President Ahmadinejad's subsidies reduction plan or a response to tightening fuel supplies with the prospect of reduced imports? Or both?

1900 GMT: Labour News. We've posted an interview with Jafar Azim Zadeh, the head of the Free Assembly of Iranian Workers, about the minimum wage, inflation, and the prospect of "poverty and hunger" for Iran's labourers.

1745 GMT: Reformist Relay. Once again, prominent opposition figures are putting out a series of statements. There is Mir Hossein Mousavi's speech to the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Mehdi Karroubi's "Let Us Rally" statement (see 1600 GMT), and Mohammad Khatami's address to members of the Islamic associations of Tehran universities.

Khatami insisted that the government "does not have the right to defy the constitution" and declare that its opponents are "adversaries of the regime". He asked the Iranian judiciary, "How is it that baseless accusations against some people are pursued fiercely by the judiciary whilst deviant groups are free to insult and slander any Shiite leader they might dislike?"

Khatami emphasized that the establishment can resolve problems by releasing political prisoners and upholding liberties that are the people's legal right.

1600 GMT: Karroubi Watch. The Facebook site that supports Mir Hossein Mousavi is carrying a statement from Mehdi Karroubi, "Let Us Hold a Rally".

1345 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. The reformist Parleman News declares "One Step Forward" for former President Hashemi Rafsanjani in his political manoeuvres.

1245 GMT: I'm Not Sure You Get It, Dude. At a news conference, Minister of Oil Masoud Mir Kazemi has warned that Tehran will blacklist companies which stop their gasoline exports to the country.

With respect, Mr Kazemi, I think the point here is not that you might blacklist them but that they are blacklisting you (since Iran imports 40 percent of its consumption of gasoline). As Khabar Online, which carries the report, notes, "It's not clear how Iranian government is to punish the companies which cut off gasoline delivery to the country."

1235 GMT: Another Death Sentence. Amidst chatter, some of it from the regime, about capital punishments, the International Committee for Human Rights in Iran claims a confirmed case. Abdolreza Ghanbari, accused of "mohareb" (war against God) for participation in Ashura protests, has been sentenced to death.

1230 GMT: We Will Not Be Silent (2). The wife of Mostafa Tajzadeh. former Deputy Minister of Interior and senior member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has declared that he "will talk to the people on a convenient occasion". Tajzadeh was released without bail for the Iranian New Year.

1210 GMT: We Will Not Be Silent (1). The Mojahedin of Islamic Revolution party has issued a statement: Ahmadinejad has erased freedom and taken the bread from people's tables.

1205 GMT: Etemaad To Re-Open (at a Cost)? Aftab News is reporting that the ban on Etemaad will be lifted after payment of a "bail" (we are confirming whether 100 billion or 100 million toman, which corresponds to either $100 million or $100,000), with the newspaper reappearing in the Iranian New Year.

1025 GMT: Happy New Year, "Rioters". Under the heading of not-very-surprising news, Press TV reports:
Sentences have been handed down to 86 detainees of Tehran's Western-led post-election unrests on charges that include taking part in illegal riots and disrupting public order....
According to the statement, the sentences were issued for charges such as "conspiring against national security, spreading propaganda against the establishment, membership in hostile and anti-Revolutionary groups, taking part in illegal gatherings, and disrupting public order."

0848 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. A poor attempt at analysis, simplifying a complex politician, in Foreign Policy. The magazine headlines a piece by Genevieve Abdo, a front-line writer on Iranian politics, "Iran's most independent politician finally casts his lot with the hard-liners."

There's a huge difference between giving support to the Supreme Leader, which Rafsanjani has clearly set out in recent months, and giving support to the Government. Abdo's evidence for the latter consists of this: Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad were both at a celebration on 4 March of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

Hmm.... Might want to set this against the steady sniping at the Government from Rafsanjani allies like Hassan Rohani. And it might be useful to speak with someone in the opposition before telling readers:
The green movement is taking Rafsanjani's return to the fold as a setback. With his independent voice now subsumed into the hard-line camp, there is no doubt this development will lead him to curtail his recent criticism of Ahmadinejad and Khamenei.

(Normally I wouldn't put such a poor analysis in the updates. But Foreign Policy is a front-line website for the Washington networks, so assertions like these can be read by US officials and journalists as the "hot intelligence" on Iran.)

0844 GMT: Mousavi's New Year. Mir Hossein Mousavi has already set down a marker for "a year of patience and steadfastness" in his speech to the Islamic Iran Participation Front. Now he and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, announce they are putting out a video message, addressed to the people of Iran, for the Nowruz (the Iranian New Year).

0840 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. An activist reports that Saeed Nourmohammadi, a leading member of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been released on bail.

0830 GMT: We begin this morning with a look at last night's Chahrshanbeh Suri (Fire Festival) celebrations. There are two videos with different visions of the evening, and we have an analysis: "Sometimes a celebration should be considered first as a celebration....Sometimes a celebration should then be considered political."

The Latest from Iran (12 March): Assessments

2015 GMT: Apologies to all, but the fatigue monster grabbed me as soon as I walked through home's front door. Back to normal service in AM --- best wishes and thanks to everyone for your support this week.

1650 GMT: Why Are Detainees Being Released? Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty ask the question we've been pondering and get interesting answers....

Former reformist legislator Fatemeh Haghightajoo says it is the result of an understanding reached “at the highest levels of the Iranian establishment. I believe [former President] Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and the so-called pragmatic conservatives have played a prominent role."

Paris-based reformist journalist Seraj Mirdamadi sees a show of strength, “The establishment is trying to show itself as having the upper hand following the engineered state demonstrations marking the anniversary of the 1979 revolution and demonstrate that it has reached victory.”

Mirdamadi adds that others will be kept in prison as a warning to would-be protesters. That is especially true for those who have used tough words against the Government and the Supreme Leader, with student activists Ahmad Zeidabadi and Majid Tavakoli and refomist journalist Issa Saharkhiz likely to remain in jail. (

1610 GMT: Economy Watch. Reuters offers a summary of companies who have recently ceased or altered business dealings with Iran.

* Royal Dutch Shell has stopped gasoline sales to Iran
* Oil trading firms Trafigura and Vitol are stopping gasoline sales to Iran
* Ingersoll-Rand, a maker of air compressors and cooling systems for buildings and transport, said it will no longer allow subsidiaries to sell parts or products to Tehran.
* Oilfield services company Smith International said on 1 March it was actively pursuing the termination of all its activities in Iran.
* Caterpillar, the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment, said on 1 March it would prevent foreign subsidiaries from selling equipment to independent dealers who resell it to Tehran. [ID:nN01245727]

* German insurers Munich Re and Allianz said in February they had halted all remaining insurance business in Iran.
* Reliance Industries stopped gasoline sales to Iran from its giant refining complex in May 2009. (However, Malaysian state oil firm Petronas was said in February to be shipping a gasoline cargo produced by Reliance into Iran.)
* German engineering conglomerate Siemens said in January it would not accept further orders from Iran.
* Glencore ceased gasoline supply to Iran in November 2009
* British Petroleum stopped supplying Iran in 2008

1545 GMT: Back from academic work and finally on way home.

While I've been away, Iranian authorities have assured that the "death penalty is essential 2 public security and applied only after exhaustive judicial proceedings". A drug trafficker was hung in public in Ahwaz on Friday. (

Reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh, a former Deputy Minister of Interior, received a hero's welcome after his temporary release from detention for Iranian New Year. (

Rah-e-Sabz claims that Iranian-American academic Kian Tajbakhsh, jailed for 15 years last autumn, may be released on $500,000 bail. (

0755 GMT: Very Significant. Reporters Without Borders have awarded the first Netizen Prize to the Iranian creators of the website Change for Equality, established in 2006 to campaign for changes in laws that discriminate against women.

Not Very Significant. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says on national television, “The name of the Persian Gulf is so irrefutable that it is non-negotiable."

0725 GMT: Opening thoughts this morning on the significant and the peripheral...

There is a valuable discussion amongst readers in our separate entry on Gender Issues and the Green Movement; however, I also find myself distracted, as I've noted in a brief post, by the focus on discussion in Washington on the nuclear issue.

The peripheral pops up this morning, again from Washington, in a muddled piece in Foreign Policy which proclaims, "It's hard to sign up with the folks who seem all too willing to bomb Iran, but the neoconservatives...have a well-grounded view of the Iranian regime," but has little consciousness of Tehran beyond its supposed "leadership".

So it's back to the significant, if blackly comic, news that an Iranian football journalist, Abdollah Sadoughi, has been released after seven weeks. His crime? He had published posters supporting the Iranian-Azerbaijani football team, Traktor Sazi, in Tabriz; for the Iranian authorities, this became "acts against national security" and "supporting "Pan-Turkism". (EA readers may recall a video we posted months ago of a protest against an Ahmadinejad speech in Tabriz with the chants of "Traktor! Traktor!")

Three members of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters --- Saeed Haeri, Mehrdad Rahimi, and Saeed Kalanaki --- have been released on bails of around $100,000.

The Latest from Iran (3 March): Love and Hate

2015 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch: The family of journalist Emaddedin Baghi have visited him in prison. Baghi's wife Fatemeh Kamali  said, "Although he became weak, his spirit is very strong."

1920 GMT: P.S. Fatemeh Karroubi has said that she will file a lawsuit against the Iranian Press Supervisory Board for shutting down Iran Dokht magazine.

NEW Iran: Today’s Rafsanjani Watch — Clarity or Confusion?
NEW Iran Interview: The State of Tehran’s Nuclear Programme (Cirincione)
Iran Document: Women Activists Write Mousavi & Karroubi

Iran Analysis: The Mousavi Strategy “We Are Still Standing”
The Latest from Iran (2 March): Can The Regime Defuse the Crisis?

1900 GMT: Karroubi Watch. Fatemeh Karroubi, Mehdi Karroubi’s wife, has written an open letter to the Iranian nation after the closure of the magazine Iran Dokht and an attack on her home by plainclothesmen who threw eggs and tomatoes: "I should feel sorry for the country when its Government can’t even tolerate the only press that will critique it."

Karroubi declared, "It’s very disappointing that the Government pays a bunch of bullies to insult the family of the revolutionaries and the family of martyrs." She warned that the fundamentalist totalitarian movement, whose infiltration of the Government worried Imam Khomeini, was now trying to use any opportunity to slaughter the progressive principles of the Constitution.

Fatemeh Karroubi singled out Deputy Minister of Culture Mo-Amin Ramin, whom she claims called the Karroubi home and "threatened them with offensive language", including references to the execution of Mehdi Karroubi. She warned Ramin and his "like-minded allies" that they could never slaughter an idea and that their illegal and unusual behaviours are doomed.

1855 GMT: Defending the Journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists and other organisations have started "Our Society will be a Free Society" to campaign for detained reporters.

1820 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (cont.). Journalist Noushin Jafari and student Sina Shokouhi have been released.

1640 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Green Voices of Freedom reports that journalist Morteza Kazemian has been released.

An Iranian activist writes that journalist Reza Nourbakh, arrested on 4 August, has also been released on bail.

1600 GMT: Rafsanjani Watch. Today's statement of clarification from Hashemi Rafsanjani is so ambiguous that we had to give it a separate entry.

1150 GMT: Economy Watch. Hassan Rohani, a member of the Expediency Council and ally of Hashemi Rafsanjani, has warned that Iran could become an oil importer if its current policies and state of production continue.

1145 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Green Voices for Freedom reports that women’s rights activist Mahboubeh Karami was arrested at her home last night.

0935 GMT: MP Hajsheikh Alikhani has warned that, if necessary, the Iranian Parlaiment will impeach the Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mo-Amin Ramin, to ensure his removal.

0930 GMT: Today's Top Tip. United Press International hands over space to Roger Gale, a British member of Parliament former vice chairman of the Conservative Party, to offer this suggestion:
Lifting the ban on the MeK (Mujahedin-e-Khalq, designated by the State Department as a "foreign terrorist organization") would allow the United States and its partners to negotiate with the regime from a position of strength if ever an opportunity did arise. And it would be a cost-free opportunity for the Obama administration to show some teeth to a pariah regime that understands only the language of force.

0915 GMT: Rah-e-Sabz posts that a French satellite provider is threatening to cut off Iranian state channels if Iran does not cease its "jamming" of broadcasts such as BBC Persian.

0825 GMT: RAHANA reports that Sharif University student Mehdi Kalari, detained on 7 December, has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.

0800 GMT: In the 1955 film Night of the Hunter, there is an iconic moment where the villain, played by Robert Mitchum, displays the tattoos on his hands to the camera. On one, "Love". On the other, "Hate".

I am not sure if "Love" and "Hate" are the appropriate words for the regime's efforts, but it is definitely showing two sides to its people. On Tuesday, there was news of more releases of detainees, but there were also the continuing crackdown on the press and the arrest of other activists and public figures. Latest news is of the arrest of another member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters, Navid Khanjani.

The detention which attracted the most attention outside Iran was that of prominent film director Jafar Panahi after a Monday night raid on his house. It is unclear how many of the other 17 people in the house, including Panahi's daughter and wife and guests such as documentary maker Mohammad Rasoulof are also in custody.

Tehran chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi was vague in explaining why Panahi, who was also briefly detained during 30 July demonstrations and has been barred from leaving Iran, is being held apart from declaring, "His arrest is neither related to his profession as an artist nor linked to political motivations." He did indicate,however, that this detention would not be brief, as the director's interrogation "has just begun".

Amongst Iranian activists, however, the display of regime force that is causing the most comment this morning is the alleged death sentence handed down on a post-election detainee, Mohammad Reza Valian. The 20-year-old university student appeared in court on 3 February, accused of crimes such as appearing at the 17 July Friday Prayer service led by Hashemi Rafsanjani, participating in Qods Day protests in September, and throwing stones on Ashura (27 December).

The report is still based on a single Green Movement source and the death sentence has not been announced by Iranian authorities.